Microsoft Wants Sporkin Off Its Case

Microsoft Wants Sporkin Off Its Case

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A., 1995 MAR 8 (NB) — Microsoft has askedan appeals court to remove District Court Judge Stanley Sporkinfrom its anti-trust settlement with the Justice Department,charging that Sporkin is biased against the software giant.

“From the very outset,” says Microsoft’s brief in the casebefore the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, “JudgeSporkin’s views about Microsoft were shaped by ‘Hard Drive,'”the often unflattering book about Microsoft by James Wallace andJim Erickson, two reporters for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“It is apparent that in Judge Sporkin’s mind, a book basedlargely on conversations with Microsoft’s competitors anddisgruntled former employees had replaced the complaint as theyardstick with which the sufficiency of the consent decree wasto be measured.

“By engaging in its own fact gathering,” Microsoft said in itsbrief, “the district court assumed the inquisitorial role of aEuropean investigating magistrate, a clear basis fordisqualification.” The brief accuses Sporkin of having “apersonal bias or a prejudice” against Microsoft.

In its brief, Justice argues that Sporkin overstepped hisauthority under the 1974 Tunney Act and his decision overturningthe agreement is “an invitation to anarchy.” The brief arguesthat the settlement is “in the public interest,” and asks theappeals court to order Sporkin to sign off on the settlement.

The Justice Department got into the review of allegedanti-competitive practices by Microsoft after the Federal TradeCommission twice deadlocked over its investigation. Justice andMicrosoft last July agreed on a settlement, in which Microsoftsaid it would change its practices for licensing operatingsystem software. At the time, many of Microsoft’s competitorswere angry at the narrowness of the agreement, charging thatJustice had caved in. Microsoft stock went up following theagreement.

The only thing that prevented the agreement from going intoeffect was the need for the district court to approve it.

Sporkin was assigned the case by lottery. He made it clear fromthe beginning that he was not going to be a rubber stamp, andultimately rejected the deal last month. Microsoft and Justiceare appealed that ruling.

A three-judge appeals court panel in Washington will hear oralarguments in the case on April 27. A decision could takeseveral more months.

(Kennedy Maize/19950308/Press Contact: Greg Shaw, Microsoft,206-882-8080)

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